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Oh My Stars
Synopses & Reviews
I am convinced that at birth the cake is already baked. Nurture is the nuts or frosting, but if you’re a spice cake, you’re a spice cake, and nothing is going to change you into an angel food.
Tall, slender Violet Mathers is growing up in the Great Depression, which could just as well define her state of mind. Abandoned by her mother as a child, mistreated by her father, and teased by her schoolmates (“Hey, Olive Oyl, where’s Popeye?”), the lonely girl finds solace in artistic pursuits. Only when she’s hired by the town’s sole feminist to work the night shift in the local thread factory does Violet come into her name, and bloom. Accepted by her co-workers, the teenager enters the happiest phase of her life, until a terrible accident causes her to retreat once again into her lonely shell.
Realizing that she has only one clear choice, Violet boards a bus heading west to California. But when the bus crashes in North Dakota, it seems that Fate is having another cruel laugh at Violet’s expense. This time though, Violet laughs back. She and her fellow passengers are rescued by two men: Austin Sykes, whom Violet is certain is the blackest man to ever set foot on the North Dakota prairie, and Kjel Hedstrom, who inspires feelings Violet never before has felt. Kjel and Austin are musicians whose sound is like no other, and with pluck, verve, and wit, Violet becomes part of their quest to make a new kind of music together.
Oh My Stars is Lorna Landvik’s most ambitious novel yet, with a cast of characters whose travails and triumphs you’ll long remember. It is a tale of love and hope, bigotry and betrayal, loss and discovery–as Violet, who’s always considered herself a minor character in her own life story, emerges as a heroine you’ll laugh with, cry with, and, most important, cheer for all the way.
"The author of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons cooks up a novel of hard-won luck and the wonder of reaping blessing from calamity. It's 1937, and shy, homely, 18-year-old Violet Mathers — battered by a mother's desertion, a father's contempt and an accident that cost her her arm — has decided to travel from her Kentucky hometown to the Golden Gate Bridge, from which she plans to jump. But when her bus is totaled in North Dakota, she's put up by a warm local family, whose heartthrob son, Kjel, dreams of musical stardom with his black friend Austin, a guitar virtuoso. Pitying Violet, Kjel ropes her into a journey to retrieve Austin's brother, Dallas, a sullen but musically gifted ex-con. By happy accident, the three men fill in for a no-show band at a carnival, enthralling the first of many crowds. As the Pearltones, they soon inspire a mania of Elvis-like proportions, and Violet blooms in their company and proves a savvy manager. Landvik cuts her light, sweet prose with dashes of wryness and pinches of reality: appalled stares, clenched fists and even a burning cross greet the band as they make their way South, while bad apples threaten it from within. Landvik strings the escapades into a playful and poignant narrative, even as a backdrop of Ku Klux Klan violence and Depression-era hardship keeps the fairy tale in check. Agent, Suzanne Gluck. (Apr.) Correction: The cover price of Richard Matheson's Woman (Forecasts, Mar. 21) is $12.95." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Only in one of Landvik's insightful highly entertaining novels might a dreary bus accident in rainy North Dakota during the Great Depression prove the beginning of a marvelous life-transforming journey.
About the Author
Lorna Landvik is an actor and comedian who has written and produced plays in which she also performs. The author of five previous novels, she is married and the mother of two daughters.
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